Friday, April 1, 2016

The development of a Character

Story-telling is not the same as having a good story. The latter is having an idea and piecing together the action, I would still consider that having a good story. But, story-telling is connecting with people, often at a deep level. Creating a myth that is compelling to engage with the truths of this world is often difficult.  From what I have seen, one of the areas that many writers miss the boat on is their development of a character or characters.

Characters are the element of a story that makes it multi-dimensional and relate-able. When I write, all of my characters are in some way me.  Even the "bad guys". But, there is more to it than that. For each character I create, I have a physical manifestation in my head.  Sometimes these are actors who embody a certain look that propels the emotion I need in this character.  But, more often than not, they are people I know in real life; people with whom I have connected.

In my first released novel, Age of Mystics, the antagonist is a man named Eric Fine (some could argue the antagonist is nature itself, but that is another discussion). Those who know me well, are well aware that I knew a man with a similar name not too long ago.  I think it is fair to say we had a contentious relationship.  So, picking that image in my head for the antagonist certainly called on the emotions I had about this person.  There is catharsis in that. But, assuming that because Eric was inspired by this person means that Eric "IS" that person is a pretty big stretch. I just don't think of it that way, and you shouldn't either. If, as you read, you connect with one of the characters in a way that makes you think you know that person, then I have done my job.  In creating this world, it is my job to make you see yourself within this world. In that way, it doesn't really matter what inspired me.

I had a High School teacher who was counseling me about my writing one day.  Everyone just loved a poem I wrote and talked at length about its meaning to them.  After the class, I confessed to the teacher that it didn't mean anything.  It was an assignment and I had strung some words together in a proper rhythm. His words will always ring in my ears, "It isn't about you, Chris. It is about them. Art is subjective." So, as fascinated as some have been about who exactly was the inspiration for different characters, I am just as fascinated by who it is for you. When you read about Maxine Craven, do you know a little girl just like that? I mean, not the powers, of course.  But, do you know someone with that attitude, that charm, that innocence? In my head, while writing, she as inspired by a famous actress.  But, it doesn't really matter. It matters who you see, not who I see. If I have developed her character correctly, then your perspective is the only one that counts to me.

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